Qualcomm executive pushes Gobi chipset

Michael Concannon, Qualcomm's vice president of strategic products for Qualcomm's CDMA division, revealed more details about the Gobi chipset at the Andrew Seybold University, co-located at the  CTIA Wireless I.T. and Entertainment Conference in San Francisco. Concannon billed the chipset as the multimode solution to global 3G network compatibility issues.

Gobi allows users to switch seamlessly between 3G networks around the world, including GSM, EDGE, HSPA, HSDPA and EV-DO. Vodafone, which operates an HSPA network in Europe, has backed the project, complementing partner Verizon's U.S.-based EV-DO network. Concannon said the chipset streamlines notebook manufacturer supply logistics and provides mobile GPS functionality on laptops.

The concept was first announced last fall and more details began emerging about the aims of the chipset this spring. Concannon said the Gobi solution arose in response to both a rising number of 3G subscribers globally--now estimated at 630 million--as well as 3G technology not being embedded and deployed fast enough in laptops.

Concannon said consumers were forced into carrier selection at the time of purchase, and that had restricted global mobility for business travelers. In response, he said, IT managers told Qualcomm they wanted a solution that would provide easy end-user access, provide coverage anywhere they could use a cell phone, gave them investment protection and allowed for global roaming.

One of the keys to Gobi's innovative design, Concannon said, is that it standardizes API, and allows developers to develope a potentially endless variety of applications that sit above the card firmware, while providing no problem with certification.

Behind the slick marketing roll-out is a clear business model. If Gobi is adopted largescale in laptops it will give Qualcomm a foothold in an expanding market as they hope to pivot and move beyond their CDMA standard.

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